Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “cows”

Cowdog! — or not

More Beau stories re-visited. This post is about another activity he tried.

Shootin' the Breeze

cattlein hayfield

Here in the ranch country of northern Colorado, many ranchers find canine helpers to be useful when working with livestock.  There are dog breeds that are genetically talented and, when individual dogs are properly trained, they can be very helpful.  Such dogs keep the herd moving or herded up.  They often nip at the heels of livestock being loaded in trailers even.  Very impressive.


Among the breeds used as cowdogs and sheepdogs are Australian Cattledogs, Blue and Red Heelers, and Border Collies.  Yellow Labrador Retrievers are not usually included in that list of working breeds.  Labs are considered sporting dogs, hunting dogs, and bird dogs.  They are not working dogs.  They are playing dogs.

Beau is a Yellow Lab.  He is a swimming dog and, indeed, a bird dog.  He is also good at retrieving.  For fun.  He only does things that are fun for him.

Retrieving is not the…

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An Invitation to Justin Bieber

I was in my study, at my computer, doing something very important, when Miss Sugar called out, “Al, a cow got through the fence, crossed the river, and the dogs are chasing her back across the river again, but in the wrong place.”

So I jumped up immediately, without finishing the internet article about Justin Bieber visiting the Great Wall of China by having two bodyguards carry him on their shoulders up the steps.

Still wearing my lawyer clothes, for I had been in meetings in Fort Collins and Cheyenne earlier in the day,  I shed my suit coat and substituted rubber boots for my dress boots.  Then I walked to the bridge, crossed it, and opened the gate into the area where the cow was anxiously trying to discern a route back to her herd.  (By the way, cows are not known for their discernment.)


The dogs were glad to have my help.  Sugar, however, intervened.  She called them back home, which required them to swim across the river again.  For Labs, that is fun.  They are great swimmers.  As Sugar realized, they are not great herders.  They tend to chase cows further and further away.

I used my discernment and experience to quietly go past the cow before moving her, so as to direct her back towards the gate I had opened rather than using the dogs’ plan of chasing her away.  My plan worked very slick — for awhile.

I got her heading the correct direction along the fence toward the gate, when she decided that she did not need a gate.   She awkwardly achieved her goal of getting through the fence and back to the herd.  It amazes me that large cows can somehow get through a four strand barbed wire fence without breaking the fence or hurting themselves.  Horses can’t do that and they are much more graceful creatures.  They get hung up.  They cut themselves.  Cows are superior escape artists.

Walking back, I thought of Justin Bieber.  It might do him some good to work on a ranch.  Out here we don’t carry other guys on our shoulders unless they are football coaches or star players who just won an important game, and even that is rarely seen.  We don’t carry musicians on our shoulders.  That is where we draw the line.

I invite Justin to come visit Cross Creek Ranch and we will put him to work.  We will supply the rubber boots and work gloves.

Peyton Manning is also invited.  I would gladly carry him around on my shoulders.  He deserves it!

The Bachelor and Bachelorette

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have viewed too many episodes of the related TV shows, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and the copycat show, Sweet Home Alabama.

As everyone who chose to read this blog knows, each of those shows involve many young women or young men vying for the hand of one man or woman in a competition on TV while living in the same house.  Such a situation is not replicating anything found in human experience, with the possible exception of harem life.  Isn’t it unacceptable for one roommate to date the same person as another roommate?  Isn’t that seen as a betrayal of the roommate and isn’t the person dating both considered a two-timer, which is not admirable?  Multiply it tenfold. 

The goal is to find true love.  On the final episode there is to be a proposal of marriage.  Really?  True love is on a schedule.  The central character better find his or her spouse in a set number of weeks from a limited pool of applicants.

The backstabbing in the house shared by the competitors is not surprising.  What is surprising is that some become friends.  They hug one another when someone fails to get a rose and has to go home, as if comforting a teammate who struck out.

Then the loser goes off in a limosine, tearfully declaring his or her love for the person who booted them.  They are usually so surprised that of the 25 or so dating “Emily” that she did not understand the big mistake she just made. 

Ben Stiller recently did a parody of these shows on an internet series called “Burning Love.” 

Prior to the artificial situations broadcast as reality TV, the viewing public would not think of dating 25 people at the same time, nor of being one of the 25 dating the same object of affection of all the others. 

Wait, I have seen it before, just not among humans.  There are many ranches in our area with one bull “dating” dozens of cows simultaneously, similar to The Bachelor.  However, this is a sexist arrangement, as I have never seen dozens of bulls “date” one cow.  They’d kill each other. The guys on The Bachelorette should learn a lesson from the animal world. 

When I was in the dating world, girls with 25 boyfriends were not called bachelorettes.  They were called something that my mother would wash out my mouth with soap for saying.

Bison Bob

Not counting on television or maybe at a zoo, I saw my first buffalo on Uncle Bob’s ranch in western Nebraska.  I loved going to Bull Canyon Ranch because it was so dang big.  It was traditionally a cattle ranch, but Uncle Bob was a free thinker and he figgered he would branch out.  What he done, you probably guessed from the first sentence, was to add buffaloes to the ranch population.

At this point I better educate the more ignorant amongst us.  The critters are properly called American Bison by scientists and such.  I am not a scientist, so I call them buffalo like Buffalo Bill Cody and Buffalo Bob on Howdy Doody done.  Now this educating can only go so far.  If you don’t know who they are, just quit reading now cuz you are in over your head.

The mascot for the University of Colorado is Ralphie the buffalo and the athletic teams are the Colorado Buffaloes or Buffs.  I know there are scientists at that school but, apparently, they looked the other way and did not call themselves bison.

Bison, aka buffaloes, are more independent creatures than are cows, bigger too.  I have rounded up and herded cows on occasion, many times on twenty mile cattle drives.  It is pretty fun.  I have worked at brandings and the unmentionable collateral process of turning baby bulls into baby steers.  (Are you keepin up or must I explain how bulls become steers?)   I consider myself a cowboy.  But that’s where I draw the line.  I ain’t a buffaloboy or bisonboy.  I don’t herd buffaloes.  I don’t rope buffaloes.  I don’t brand buffaloes.  And I don’t castrate buffaloes.

I’ll tell you why.   Buffaloes are bigger, tougher and meaner than cows.  They require stronger fencing.  They can do what one tried to do to Uncle Bob.

Bull Canyon Ranch has (guess what?) a canyon.  It is what is known as a box canyon, which means there is only one way in and out.  So Uncle Bob fenced across that one opening.  He used tall sturdy fence, which turned out to be a pretty good idea.

I wasn’t there at the time, but Cousin Tom reported to me what happened, which was that after Uncle Bob (well, Tom didn’t call his father Uncle Bob) and his help got that first group of buffaloes into their new home in the box canyon, one of the critters was ungrateful about the free rent arrangement and decided to leave.  The way he went about it was to rush the fence and crash into it while Uncle Bob was looking the other way.  Tom said the buffalo was going after his dad and the fence just happened to be in the way.  As a country lawyer, I sometimes have to deal with legal issues that involve motive.  In this case, I’m not too sure about the charging buffalo’s motive.  I’m just glad Uncle Bob could build a good fence.

These photos were taken by Miss Sugar last summer when our neighbors got a dozen two-year-old buffalo heifers.   Their fences are not as sturdy as Uncle Bob’s.  They could use a nice box canyon.

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